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When is it too cold for horses outdoors?

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  • When is it too cold for horses outdoors?

    It is 22 degrees right now. The horses in question have winter coats and are wearing turnout blankets. They were used to being in the barn at night, but the barn is not heated/insulated and seems to only run about 5 degrees warmer than outdoors. They do have a shelter to go into, a heated water tub and a round bale to munch on.

    Opinions? It's supposed to be quite a bit colder in the coming days...think negative wind chills. I know other people's horses are out 24/7 and are fine. Am I being silly?

  • #2
    My guy is out 24/7 in a pasture with 3 other horses and is fine. There is a shedrow barn with 3 stalls and an overhang that they can go in and out as they please, but as far as I know he usually has his head in the roundbale all day.

    He does wear a sheet or mid-weight blanket if it's going to be really cold or wet, since if it's cold and rainy he will start to shiver. As long as he has a sheet or blanket on he's fine though.
    "People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"

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    • #3
      It really does depend on the horse BUT! As a rule my trainer refuses to stand in the indoor and teach at temps below 20*F so I figure turnout at temps below 15*F is not necessary. I realize this is just for my own comfort but at that temp I've noticed my horses stand still, turn their back to the wind, and that's pretty much it. I don't feel like they are moving around enough to keep warm so in the stall they go. Now, I have to admit, if it's 15*F during the day I will put the horses out. I just figure in they day the sun is out creating warmth (even though it's not since the temps are 15*F WITH the sun but it makes me feel better).

      My horse and one other horse on the farm wear a blanket. There is another horse who wears one sometimes and a couple that wear a sheet if they are needed clean for some reason. Other than that they are nekkid regardless of temps. Our horses are older (mostly in their 20's) and are TB's, QH's, and Walkers.

      I will agree some horses can't handle the temps but mosty it's the wind that eliminates their ability to keep warm. Horses handle the cold very well so long as they have shelter from the wind and aren't wet. It's such a testament to horses when I get to the farm and find inches of snow accumulating on their backs - the hair traps the heat in so the snow doesn't melt If the snow is melting then the horse isn't insulating and therefore is probably cold. If it's not windy and not precipitaing they are generally fine. Those in a cozy blankie are fine no matter what the temp/precip (usually).
      Lord Stanely, Lord Stanley - come back to Pittsburgh!!!
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      *** I LOVE PUIKA FAN CLUB***

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      • #4
        My horses are outside 24/7 in -45 celsius...whatever that is in far. They have shelter from trees...they're fine. I have to feed them more in the winter, but my TB can stand the cold just as well as my QH. Just my opinion.

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        • #5
          If your horses aren't use to being outside 24/7 during the winter; I would keep an eye on them. They may not grow the kind of winter coat necessary to keep themselves warm when it's really cold...

          I would definitely keep an eye on them when it starts to get below zero (without wind chill) or -10 or so with wind chill.

          When I turned Sam out for the year, when he wasn't use to being out 24/7, that winter he didn't grow an adequate coat, and when it was about -15 or so, we had to bring him in because he was so cold/stiff he could barely walk. And he was wearing a heavy blanket.

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          • #6
            In 1990, two purebred Canadian Horses, a nine year old mare, and a three year old gelding, spent eight weeks in the sub-zero temperatures of the Arctic when they accompanied the POLARLYS Expedition to Cornwallis Island.

            http://www.lechevalcanadien.ca/gallery/work2.jpg
            http://www.lechevalcanadien.ca/gallery/work3.jpg
            http://www.lechevalcanadien.ca/gallery/work6.jpg
            http://www.lechevalcanadien.ca/gallery/work10.jpg

            I think your horses will be fine

            We always had horses at home who lived outside in temps regularly down to -38 degrees C (before the windchill) without blankets and lived well into their 30's and 40's.
            True North Dressage
            Select Cheval Canadiens for dressage and eventing
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Sabovee View Post
              In 1990, two purebred Canadian Horses, a nine year old mare, and a three year old gelding, spent eight weeks in the sub-zero temperatures of the Arctic when they accompanied the POLARLYS Expedition to Cornwallis Island.

              http://www.lechevalcanadien.ca/gallery/work2.jpg
              http://www.lechevalcanadien.ca/gallery/work3.jpg
              http://www.lechevalcanadien.ca/gallery/work6.jpg
              http://www.lechevalcanadien.ca/gallery/work10.jpg

              I think your horses will be fine

              We always had horses at home who lived outside in temps regularly down to -38 degrees C (before the windchill) without blankets and lived well into their 30's and 40's.
              Wow, nice pics. heh, I guessing it would be nicer for the Canadien horses up there. Since they're such easy keepers, they'd get to eat more!

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              • #8
                Wow, Sabovee! Those are incredible pictures. Thanks for posting.
                Gentleman J - "Junior" - My been-there, done-that jumper

                Send Your Love - "Serena" - Aug 10th 2009, Rest in Peace

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                • #9
                  As long as they have access to hay I've never found cold to be a problem for a healthy horse. Coldest its been here since I've lived on this place is -36 with a -60 wind chill. Horses all did fine, didn't leave their round bales but stayed warm.
                  Quality doesn\'t cost it pays.

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                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks!

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                    • #11
                      I actually think my horses were warmer when they were outside in a herd with no blankets then they are now in a stall blanketed. When I visited them in the herd on the coldest days and got between them in a herd, it was really toasty between the horses. As long as they get along, in a herd I'm guessing they are well equipped to handle the cold. Sometimes I wish the two could share one big stall..

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                      • #12
                        SHEETS CAN MAKE HORSES COLDER

                        A FEW YEARS AGO A RAMBO REP TOLD ME THAT THE 'LITE' RAMBOS AND RHINOS WERE ONLY TO KEEP HORSES DRY BUT NOT WARM. HE SAID THAT BECAUSE THEY SMOOTH DOWN THE HORSES COAT THEY ACTUALLY CAN BE DETRIMENTAL IN THE COLD BECAUSE THE HAIR CANNOT FLUFF UP HENCE THE HORSE GETS COLDER THAN HE WOULD HAVE BEEN IF HE WERE 'AU NATURAL'. I KNOW ALOT OF PEOPLE WHO USE THE LITES IN THE WINTER BUT IT'S A TERRIBLE MISTAKE UNLESS IT IS JUST A WARMISH RAINY DAY. I AM SURE THIS HAS BEEN DISCUSSED ON THIS FORUM BEFORE.

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                        • #13
                          Worse than the actual air temperature is the wind - if they can get out of the wind they should be fine. That said, mine are in with limited out until this mess breaks - windchill now is -40...same on either scale.
                          Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                          Member: Incredible Invisbles

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                          • #14
                            Nice pictures, but the pesimistic part of me wonders how much someone could know about horses in the cold if they think its ok to put a 3yo through that much hard work. Especially that much hard work in that much cold.
                            http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by trafalgar View Post
                              A FEW YEARS AGO A RAMBO REP TOLD ME THAT THE 'LITE' RAMBOS AND RHINOS WERE ONLY TO KEEP HORSES DRY BUT NOT WARM. HE SAID THAT BECAUSE THEY SMOOTH DOWN THE HORSES COAT THEY ACTUALLY CAN BE DETRIMENTAL IN THE COLD BECAUSE THE HAIR CANNOT FLUFF UP HENCE THE HORSE GETS COLDER THAN HE WOULD HAVE BEEN IF HE WERE 'AU NATURAL'. I KNOW ALOT OF PEOPLE WHO USE THE LITES IN THE WINTER BUT IT'S A TERRIBLE MISTAKE UNLESS IT IS JUST A WARMISH RAINY DAY. I AM SURE THIS HAS BEEN DISCUSSED ON THIS FORUM BEFORE.
                              HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                              Oh yes, it has been discussed alright! I have been making this point on these forums for years. Thank you for saying it for me.

                              As long as a horse has a good coat, he is better off naked than dressed. If he has a weak coat, dress him as tho he were clipped. Or better yet, clip him and bundle him up. 22 degrees? If I kept mine in at 22, they'd be in from November 1st - April.
                              Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

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                              • #16
                                Agree 100% with trafalgar as well.

                                The WORST thing you can do to try and keep a horse warm is to blanket them as they then lose the ability to allow the hairs to puff up and stand on end and rotate to face the wind direction to give them maximum insulation.

                                Of course if they are clipped, you're cooked. You have to blanket them and there is no hair left to stand up, roll over, play dead or anything else either ...
                                www.TrueColoursFarm.com
                                www.truecoloursproducts.com

                                True Colours Farm on Facebook

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                                • #17
                                  Last night we were having 30 mph winds, blowing snow, 16 degrees F. I thought well I bet mine are begging to come in and went to put them in after work. (They are wearing 1200d blankets with 400g of fill,not clipped) I found 2 eating at the roundbale and 2 standing on the knoll in the wind. Not one of them made a move to come to the gate when they saw me. The blankets were completely covered in ice and crackling with every step since we also got a freaky rain after the snow. They have an area to get out of the wind but apparently it wasn't worth it to walk over there. I left them out with any guilt. They know my truck and will be waiting for me when I drive up if they have some unmet need, so I think the blankets were working rather nicely.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Well, my friend just moved to Montana from N.H. with her two horses and a donkey. The horses there are treated VERY differently than how she treated them in N.H. Her horses had no time to acclimate to the really cold weather and so she is blanketing them (much to the chagrin of all the ranchers in the area that poo poo the thought) and they are getting grain (another 'what the?' from the ranchers). The temp on saturday was -22 and her horses are in a run in shed that is the size of a three car garage. But, as with all things, they are now used to it and yesterday when the temperature was 2 degrees, they all stood around dozing in the 'warmth'.
                                    Here is a pic from a 'warm' day (20 deg)
                                    R.I.P. my sweet boy Tristan
                                    36 years old, but I was hoping you'd live forever
                                    5/5/75-7/5/11

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                                    • #19
                                      -30wcf coming my way in the next two days The horses will be turned out daily but not to excess.
                                      "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"

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                                      • #20
                                        I live in south Texas, so we don't get very cold here. It may get down in the mid 20's a night or 2 here and there but that is a exception. I board at a big barn. It infuriates me when a few people pull out the heavy blankets for these infrequent cold nights. These horses in question are as wooly as Texas horses get and are in the barn at night, not out in the elements. A few weeks ago I got to the barn early one morning to find one said blanketed horse obviously distressed, went in his stall to check on him and he was soaked with sweat under his blanket!! I took off the blanket and told the owner later, but alas....he still uses the blanket. Arrgg

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